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EU ‘deplores’ Israeli demolitions of humanitarian structures in West Bank

Dec. 14, 2016 11:56 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 14, 2016 5:35 P.M.)
Palestinian Bedouin homes destroyed by Israel on Jan. 21, 2016. (MaanImages, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Following a spate of demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank last week by Israeli forces, the European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah slammed Israel for violating international humanitarian law.

In a statement Tuesday, the local EU heads of mission said they “deplore the demolitions of Palestinian structures undertaken by Israel,” highlighting that residential structures demolished on Dec. 6 in the Jordan Valley had been provided as humanitarian aid by the EU and EU member states.

The same day, Israeli authorities also confiscated solar panels and electrical equipment from the south Hebron Hills village of Susiya, according to the statement, which also noted the Israeli-enforced demolition of two car washes in al-Nabi Samwil and al-Khalayleh in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The three incidents affected a total of 257 Palestinians, the EU heads of mission said.

According to European Union documentation, incidents brought the total number of structures demolished by Israel in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control -- in 2016 to 866.

Since then, demolitions in Area C have been reported in Hebron and Sur Bahir.

Israel has repeatedly come under international condemnation over demolitions of EU-funded structures, with some accusing the Israeli government of demolishing Palestinian structures in retaliation for the EU’s decision in November last year to enforce labeling laws that would indicate if a product was made in one of Israel’s 196 illegal settlements.

According to the EU statement, since the beginning of 2016, the worth of humanitarian structures provided by the EU and EU member states which have been demolished or confiscated by Israel reached approximately 536,000 euros ($569,000).

“EU humanitarian activities are carried out in full accordance with International humanitarian law, with the sole aim of providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable population,” Tuesday’s statement said.

“In line with its long standing position on this issue, the EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development.”

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